Marshall Article Summary Elizabeth Marshall, an associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University, contends in her article “Borderline Girlhoods: Mental Illness, Adolescence, and Femininity in Girl, Interrupted, that Susanna Kaysen’s popular memoir is an accurate depiction of the characteristics which mark female adolescence. Marshall points out that the adolescent time period for a girl is defined by “historically and culturally bound gendered pedagogies” (118). It has become normal to think of this stage of a female’s life as a weak, broken, and self-destructive time and need help.
Susanna Kaysen’s memoir attracts many young female readers who associate with the wounded girl image and are often seen by society as outcasts with a mental illness. In Susanna’s case, her behavior did not align with cultural gendered pedagogies and as a result was placed in a psychiatric hospital. Her admittance causes a severe interruption in her life. Susanna’s diagnosis confirms “the socially constructed link between a girl’s sexual practices and her mental health” (124). Marshall illustrates that “the same gendered criteria through which she was institutionalized allows for er entry back into the world” (125).
The belief that a girl is cured when she conforms to a set of gender specific rules is exemplary throughout the narrative. The film version of Girl, Interrupted, produced in the 1990s when gender stereotypes of female adolescence were in the mainstream, does not accurately portray Kaysen’s main point of her memoir. The film however, confirms the gendered pedagogies and plays into the stereotypes that the female adolescent is wounded and must be cured through talking and the guidance of a strong adult role model.
Finally, Girl, Interrupted is seen as an inspirational book to many young women because of its ability to relate. Marshall asserts that Kaysen’s memoir “offers alternative pedagogies that blur the line between adulthood and adolescence, and tutor us about the insufficiency of the time-bound and gendered identities that culture imposes” (130). word count: 325 Works Cited Marshall, Elizabeth. “Borderline Girlhoods: Mental Illness, Adolescence, and Femininity in Girl, Interrupted. ” The Lion and the Unicorn 30. 1 (2006): 117-30. Print.